The picture of recovery in Pakistan | Ajay Chhibber

15 Feb 2013

Pakistani man tends mangroves A Pakistani man tends to mangroves in the evergreen forests in the areas between land and sea. (Photo: Satomi Kato/UNDP)

I had the great pleasure this week of speaking at the National Press Club in Washington at an exhibit of photos taken in 2010-2011 in Pakistan by the Japanese photojournalist Satomi Kato. Key partners from the U.S., Japanese, Pakistani, and other governments, journalists, World Bank officials, civil society organizations, and others all turned out to see these remarkable images—which beautifully illustrate our recovery work after floods devastated the country.
We at UNDP focus intently on concrete results and measurable outcomes—as we should. This is a crucial part of our efforts to deliver maximum value with the full transparency and accountability that our partners rightly expect. But these photos remind us that the tangible results and unique value of our long-term work, supporting human development, is reflected not only in spreadsheets, indices, and growth rates, but also in the faces and stories of the people whose lives and communities we’ve helped restore.
These floods caused unprecedented destruction, submerging one-fifth of the country and affecting close to 20 million people. Some 1.67 million houses were destroyed or damaged, and 2.2 million hectares of agricultural land was covered with floods, destroying crops that were the only source of income for hundreds of thousands of families. GDP plunged, and infrastructure damage was estimated at US $10 billion.
The United Nations, with civil society organizations support from many of our partners, worked closely with the Government of Pakistan to embark on large-scale early recovery support. We focused on creating livelihood opportunities, cash for work, and agricultural support to farmers.
Against an appeal of almost US $1.2 billion for early recovery, our partners provided US $1 billion through the UN system. UNDP launched a US $90 million early recovery programme, to which Japan contributed US $50 million.
Through UNDP’s early recovery programme alone, we covered 4,000 villages across the country, benefiting more than 5.5 million people in the 29 most-affected districts, adopting an area-based development approach to early recovery with a special focus on women.
We helped create short-term work opportunities through cash for work, benefiting almost 1.3 million people. They not only made a living, but they also rebuilt their communities through more than 3,600 small-scale community infrastructure schemes. UNDP helped to restore 60 micro-hydro power units and established 2,000 bio-gas plants to provide communities with access to alternate energy.
We introduced solar water pumps, solar street lights, and solar heaters in affected areas for the first time. We helped create assistance centers that allowed the government to efficiently provide 4,000 individuals with replacement legal documents lost in the floods—from birth certificates and national ID cards to marriage certificates and land titles.
In Pakistan, early recovery worked. We helped build back better, and the work continues as we support Pakistan in becoming more resilient, better able to absorb shocks and recover quickly the next time crisis strikes.
We see progress on the ground, and we see it in the numbers. But we see it in photos and on faces, too—the impact and the promise of our work.

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